As we look back on 2022, we’re so pleased to have been able to share a fruitful year of blossoming opportunities and shared experiences with new friends. It was a year that allowed us to get back to our passion and share beauty across the globe through new varieties and beloved staples.
One such experience occurred from Aug. 28 to Sept 1, 2022, when the first-prize winners of our annual Garden Rose Design Contest were invited to bring a guest for an all-expenses-paid trip to Alexandra Farms. It was a momentous occasion for everyone involved, particularly because it’s the first time in years that the farm has hosted visitors from our coveted contest after global Covid-19 concerns.
Visitors included Nicole Braghin and Jaclyn Dowdell (Florida), Alicia Schwede (Washington), Quynh Nguyen (Washington), Shallima Turizo (Colombia), Jorge Ivan Uribe (Connecticut), Galina Serebriakova (Colombia), Dennis Kneepens and Mick Stubbe (Netherlands), Tobey Nelson (Washington), and Alina Neacsa (Romania).
Lottas Floral Studio Design Partner Shallima Turizo was shocked to learn she was invited to visit the farm this year, and anxious to meet with other industry professionals.
“Alexandra Farms, as a favorite garden rose supplier, has always been a stop I try to include when I visit the farms in Bogota,” she says. “Joyful office visits but never an in-depth farm tour. However, when I learned that I would take part in their international gathering this summer, I got butterflies in my stomach.”
‘Like Alice in Wonderland’
The guests of honor arrived in Bogota on Aug. 28 and were escorted the following day to the farm, where they stepped into a menagerie of garden roses.
“It was like Alice in Wonderland,” Shallima says. “My eyes danced. It was magical, and the air was filled with many wonderful fragrances released from these magnificent roses.”
Varieties of new and beloved favorites were curated in a showroom to greet the group as they made their introduction to the location of creative invention and growth. The remainder of the day included new garden rose variety previews, lunch, and meetings where guests could connect with their peers
A Multicultural Experience
The remainder of the trip consisted of visits to both farms (including El Jardin, the larger of the two farms), design sessions, and numerous opportunities to collaborate, share opinions on new varieties, and share personal experiences. For Shallima, the discussions with the group about design inspiration and aesthetics were a highlight – fascinating and equally enlightening.
“I realized in the group meetings that different designers and different cultures have different perspectives on how they see, evaluate, and relate to a particular rose, its shape, and color,” she says. “It opened up doors and different channels in my own creativity, allowing me to explore my reach even further.”
Alexandra Farms President Jose Azout says this year’s trip was particularly illuminating with the number of international attendees because they all represented different aesthetics and points of view. He notes the visitors brought different perspectives from countries such as Holland and Romania, but also varying perspectives from different ends of the United States; Seattle and Miami.
“It is always great to have designers visit the farm, as it provides incredible insight into the appeal of new products and colors and textures and shapes,” he says. “Each designer has his or her own style which is apparent in the designs they made at the farm but also in the feedback they gave for the different varieties.”
But among the hands-on design experience and discussions with the group, Shallima was pleased with the overall education she received at each of the farms, learning the intricacies of all aspects of processes that occur in each section of the farm. She says the interaction between the group and the farm workers was a fantastic experience.
Next time, she hopes to see the harvesting process in real-time. A trip to Bogota for another day. But she remains thankful for the in-depth visit she experienced this year, and the friends she made along the way.
Looking ahead, Alexandra Farms is excited to connect with friends far and wide, provide additional educational experiences on the farm, at events, and wherever we might meet, and introduce varieties that’ll take your breath away. Cheers to 2023!